Polyfest the essence of Auck­land

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By ANNA LOREN

The world’s largest Maori and Pa­cific Is­land fes­ti­val has been launched by an emo­tional Mayor Len Brown who says it sym­bol­ises the ‘‘essence’’ of Auck­land.

The 38th an­nual ASB Polyfest – an op­por­tu­nity for stu­dents to cel­e­brate and share their cul­tural her­itage with the pub­lic – was launched at the Auck­land War Me­mo­rial Mu­seum.

About 9000 stu­dents from across the Auck­land re­gion will take part in the fes­ti­val, which runs from March 13 to 16 at the Manukau Sports Bowl.

It will fea­ture tra­di­tional songs, dances and speeches from Maori and Poly­ne­sian cul­tures.

Speak­ing at the launch, Mr Brown – who is the pa­tron of Polyfest – said the fes­ti­val al­ways makes him proud to be an Auck­lan­der.

‘‘Th­ese are the days when I know I love our city un­re­servedly.’’

Polyfest is a true success story, blos­som­ing from just four schools tak­ing part in the in­au­gu­ral event in 1976 to 59 schools to­day.

‘‘It is an amaz­ing story of growth and a won­der­ful dis­play of the essence of our city, which is the largest Pa­cific and Maori city in the world.’’

Event di­rec­tor Theresa Howard says par­tic­i­pat­ing in the 2001 fes­ti­val as a stu­dent gave her a sense of pride and con­fi­dence in her Samoan and Maori her­itage.

‘‘Through dis­ci­pline and un­der great guid­ance, I learnt about lead­er­ship, be­ing hum­ble and un­der­stood what my own cul­ture is about.’’

The event en­cour­ages stu­dents to get cre­ative and ex­press their tra­di­tion and cul­ture in their own way.

‘‘Tak­ing part on stage and wear­ing your full school uni­form so proudly around the Manukau Sports Bowl demon­strates true pride, a sense of be­long­ing and be­lief.’’

The fes­ti­val in­cor­po­rates Maori, Ton­gan, Samoan, Ni­uean and Cook Is­lands stages, as well as a Di­ver­sity Stage show­cas­ing a range of other cul­tures.

Ma­nurewa’s James Cook High School is head school or kura matua this year.

The theme the school has se­lected for this year’s fes­ti­val is ‘‘The gifts of Pa­p­at­u­anuku are a koha to the peo­ple. Cher­ish and care for them’’.

Into it: James Cook High School stu­dents kick off the Polyfest launch with a haka.

Poly mo­tion: James Cook High School stu­dents per­form a poi dance at the Polyfest launch.

Proud pa­tron: Mayor Len Brown says Polyfest is an ‘‘amaz­ing’’ story of growth.

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